Orion Industries, a nonprofit that helps find jobs for people with disabilities and those transitioning out of homelessness, incarceration and drug and alcohol addiction, has named former Bsquare Corporation boss Jerry Chase as its new CEO.
Chase replaces John Theisen, who is retiring after 18 years. Theisen is credited with turning around the Auburn-based nonprofit – which was losing money when he arrived – and leading the organization as it became a national model for social enterprise. Theisen built two business lines that fund the organization: aerospace manufacturing and contact center services. Orion clients include Microsoft Corp. and The Boeing Company.
Chase, who was chosen after a nationwide search, brings a wealth of experience to Orion, which has worked with more than 2,300 people in its training programs and placed almost 1,000 individuals into new careers. He spent five years as president and CEO at Bellevue-based Bsquare, an $80 million provider of embedded software and engineering services. Before that, he was CEO of Lantronix, a $50 million company based in Irvine, California, that provides software and hardware solutions enabling equipment to be connected to and remotely controlled via the internet.
“This opportunity came at a time when I was looking to use my skills to benefit others,” Chase says. “At Orion, my experience will be put to use growing their businesses of aerospace manufacturing and contact centers, while having a large impact on the lives and families of the people we train.”
Orion, founded in 1957, says 84 percent of people that have completed company training programs have found permanent jobs. Orion is now the 13th-largest aerospace employer in the state with average annual revenue growth of 20 percent the past decade.
Seattle Business magazine honored Orion with a 2018 nonprofit manufacturer of the year award for its business acumen. The company also won the award in 2012.